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Posts from the ‘Back of the House with Ariane’ Category

The Duck Press: A French Classic

In the history of world cuisine, French chefs have been accused of being many things, but rarely ever “shy.” The French tradition holds dear the notion of not only using every part of an animal, leaving nothing edible to waste, but also of celebrating certain dishes that that often make more squeamish diners fold their napkins away and politely excuse themselves from the table.

There’s foie gras, of course, the production of which is abhorred by many and cherished by many more (us included, obviously). And then we have the ortolan, a small songbird that, due to the traditional preparation — it is gorged on grains, drowned in Armagnac and then roasted, served, and consumed in a single mouthful– has become illegal in France, although many intrepid diners continue to find gastronomic speakeasies that continue to serve it.

But one of our absolute favorite dishes — and kitchen implements — is the much lauded and feared duck press. Considered by many to be the most spectacular entree in classical French cuisine, the duck press is a device and method of preparation that was invented by a man named Machenet in Paris at the dawn of the 19th century, quickly becoming popular among the culinarily elite. The contraption, and its corresponding dish, canard à la rouennaise (or, “duck in blood sauce”) was later adopted by Chef Frèdèric of the restaurant La Tour d’ Argent (or “Silver Tower”), making it his restaurant’s signature dish, which they continue to serve today.

the-number-of-your-duck

La Tour d’Argent issues a card with the number of your pressed duck, in sequence from the very first duck they every pressed.

So, what is this infamous dish often labeled as barbaric and macabre? It begins simply, with one of our favorite things in the world: a roasted duck. The whole duck — and this includes all of the internal organs, particularly the heart and lungs of the beast, though the liver is removed and reserved — is seasoned, the skin lightly scored, and then roasted. Some chefs, including Daniel Boulud, opt to marinate the duck for up to two days before roasting quickly over very high heat, until the duck is appropriately rare. The beautifully roasted bird is carried by the chef to the diners’ table, where the rest of the elaborate process continues in full view of the restaurant’s guests. The duck’s magret (breasts) and legs are removed and reserved, and the chef uses poultry shears to cut the remaining carcass in half lengthwise.Duck Press 2

Now comes the fun part.

The chef packs the roasted carcass and internal organs into the duck press, a large, squat, menacing piece of kitchen machinery, usually made from a heavy metal such as brass, with a large crank, a wheel, and four legs that are sometimes, in a delightfully morbid fashion, made to look like duck feet. Many people like to compare the object to a medieval torture device, and, if you get a chance to see one, you’d be hard “pressed” do disagree. The increasing pressure of the crank plate compacts the bird until its bones are pulverized, the organs liquified, and the carcass blood juices out of the animal, all of which sluice through a small spout in the duck press and are collected in a pan, then strained through a fine chinois.

Duck press spigot

The chef then thickens the mixture with the pureed duck liver, adds Cognac and red wine, and reduces it carefully until it achieves a deep burgundy, almost black color. Diners are then treated to thin slices of the duck breast in the exquisite blood sauce, followed by a second course of roasted duck legs and thighs.

You'll never guess what's being pressed!

Ariane and Chef David Burke press a Bloody Mary.

Duck presses aren’t easy or inexpensive to come by these days, though our friends Chef David Burke and Chef Daniel Boulud both use them. While pressed duck isn’t nearly as popular as it was in nineteenth-century Paris, the tradition of the duck press — whether or not you consider it macabre or sublime — continues. And for that, we are most certainly thankful.

Watch, Learn, Cook! A New Video!

The latest video in our “Back of the House with Ariane” series takes on the subject of veal. The great Barbara Lynch, a chef and restaurateur based in Boston, makes a traditional Italian dish of osso buco and Ariane takes the French path with paupiettes de veau.

Link over to the recipes for Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Veal Osso Buco with Cumin Strozzapreti and Ariane’s Paupiettes de Veau on our website.

Incidentally, you can purchase veal there as well. And if you are squeamish about eating veal, there’s no need to be. Learn more about how our farmers raise veal here.

Back of the House/Episode 9: Lamb with Ariane Duarte

Check out the latest episode of Back of the House with ArianeLamb, bam, thank you ma’am! In this quick video, Ariane is cooking our grass-fed lamb and lamb merguez sausage with Chef Ariane Duarte of CulinAriane in Montclair, NJ.

Rack of Lamb with Warm Green Bean Potato Salad

Duckfat Potato Cake with Merguez and Harissa Aioli

Merguez Canapes with Eggplant Caviar

Couscous with Merguez, Fennel and Raisins

Back of the House/Episode 7: Berkshire Pork with Amanda Freitag!

In the latest episode of Back of the House, Ariane & Chef Amanda Freitag are laughing it up in The Brooklyn Kitchen while they prepare two of their favorite recipes for Berkshire pork.

Berkshire pork is known for its juicy, flavorful meat which is heavily marbled. Sometimes known as kurobuta, (which is Japanese for “black pork”) Berkshire is highly sought-after by chefs and home gourmands alike for its sweet, nutty flavor and fork-tender texture.

We source our Berkshire pork from a cooperative in Missouri, at the foot of the Ozark Mountains. About a dozen family farmers raise Berkshire and cross breeds (referred to as simply “heritage”) on pasture, with access to individual houses, water and supplemental grain feed. Families of pigs are left together, to forage and frolic outdoors in pasture. The cooperative is strict about banning the use of antibiotics and hormones on each farm, and about limiting the number of hogs the farms raise. They seek to add another farmer to the cooperative before they add more pigs to any one farm. They are paid a premium for their humanely-raised pork, making the small farm a profitable business, and proving that there might be a future in the old breeds after all.

In this video, Ariane is preparing a flavorful Stuffed Berkshire Pork Loin with Prunes and Porcini, while Amanda is making one of her fantastic go-to pork recipes, Pork Chops with Crisp Ventrèche and White Bean Ragu. Bon appétit!

Back of the House/Episode 5: Duck Breast with Sara Moulton

In the latest episode of Back of the House, Ariane and food-world-superstar, Sara Moulton, are searing & saucing duck breast. Follow along and see just how easy it is to get a fabulous, restaurant worthy duck dish on the table in less than 30 minutes with just a few ingredients. Beautiful!

Back of the House/Episode 4: Chicken with Ed Brown

In the latest episode of Back of the House, Ariane and Ed Brown show two riffs on poached chicken. Ariane makes a traditional, provincial Poule au Pot with foie gras stuffing and a myriad of accoutrements while Ed shows how it’s done on the UWS of Manhattan with bouillon poached chicken breasts with a black truffle sauce enriched with foie gras butter. Yum!

Back of the House/Episode 3: Quail with Daniel Boulud

In this episode of Back of the House, Ariane and famed chef Daniel Boulud are demonstrating two preparations of quail. The plump little game birds are a chef favorite! With juicy flesh and sweet, mild flavor we definitely agree. Check it out!

If you’d like to get your apron on & follow along, Daniel’s full recipe is here.

Amuse Bouche: Berkshire Pork with Amanda Freitag

This little piggy went to Brooklyn and became a most delicious lunch!

Here’s a sneak peak of our video shoot with the lovely and talented, Chef Amanda Freitag at The Brooklyn Kitchen.

It was a praiseworthy porcine party!

Stay tuned for the full episode of Back of the House with Ariane: PORK and click here to catch up on previous episodes featuring Chefs, Eric Ripert and Anita Lo!

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Amuse Bouche: Pressing a Duck with David Burke

One duck press is a site to behold but FOUR?!  That’s un grande spectacle! Take a peek behind the scenes of our latest video shoot for Back of the House with Ariane.

We’re hanging with Chef David Burke at his newest restaurant, David Burke Kitchen, armed with gorgeous birds and four fabulous duck presses. This will get GOOD.

Stay tuned for the full episode coming soon! Catch up with all of our episodes of Back of the House with Ariane.

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Back of the House/Episode 2: Foie Gras with Anita Lo

In our latest installment of Back of the House with Ariane, we head into the kitchen with Chef Anita Lo of Annisa restaurant.

Ariane and Anita are longtime friends – they first met when each was just breaking into the food business in New York City which at the time was totally dominated by men. Over the years, both immensely talented, strong women smashed the gender archetype to earn their rightful spots at the forefront of the food industry through hard work, dedication and of course, panache. If anyone embodies the Musketeer sentiment as much as Ariane, it’s Anita!

So it’s totally appropo that these two friends cook foie gras together in this new video, afterall, it was foie that started it all.

Bon appetit!